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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

Cologne – November 2012

We live in Brussels. We are literally just a couple of hours away by train from Amsterdam, Paris, London… and Cologne. I had briefly stopped in Cologne once, on my way to a work thing in Germany. I peeked the Rhine in the early morning light and it looked very romantic. I saw the huge gothic cathedral and was in awe. I stumbled upon the Ludwig museum and the Roman-Germanic museum and wanted to go inside. I spotted a huge branch of Starbucks (before Starbucks finally turned up in Brussels and I decided I didn’t like it again). And I spotted quite a panoply of freshly-baked pretzel stands at the train station and got very hungry indeed. So, when I got back from my work thing, I told Hanno that one day I was going to take Amélie to Cologne for a special weekend. Just us girls (I may have been influenced somewhat by the complete melt-down she’d had seeing me off at the train station just a few days earlier). Hanno protested: if I was going to Cologne, so was he. After all, he argued, he was the one with the travel bug. If I was finally going to start taking an interest in things beyond the four walls of our flat, he wanted in. Fair enough. Plus, you know, if I went on my own, I’d have to be responsible and stuff and that’s no fun at all. And I’d have missed Charlie.  Even if he was only tiny at the time. So it was agreed: we’d all go together. Some two years later… We finally made it.This is the frankly superb train station. Unfortunately, we arrived in the rain and it was bitterly cold. The Rhine didn’t look so romantic anymore. But then nothing looks that romantic when you have freezing rain stinging your eyes (the “colorful” picture is from day 2 when the clouds parted for a few short moments. Don’t let the blue sky fool you though. The wind was still painfully icy).Mind you, it was November and that’s the kind of weather you expect in November. It’s now the end of March and there are snow-drifts outside. Sigh. The cathedral was still wonderfully gothic though. The pretzels were still fresh, warm and delicious. We did visit a Starbucks, but only because it was raining and cold and we couldn’t find anywhere else that was open on a Sunday. The Ludwig museum was excellent (though the monkey’s behavior wasn’t). The Roman-Germanic museum was interesting if a little frayed at the edges in parts. Or maybe it was just me feeling frayed at the edges, trying to chase two over-excited chimps between all the irreplaceable antiquities while being stared at by increasingly scornful employees. One or the other, definitely. Anyway, here are some snaps.Inside the cathedral. Everyone and their dog seemed to be hiding in there for a little warmth (I nearly just typed “everyone and their god”. Ha. That too). The light was pretty amazing through all that stained glass.This was my favorite window. No solemn figures. Just a jumble of jewel-colored squares. While we were there, its light  was falling on this cheerful chappy. Yeah, no, there was nothing cheerful about him. I just like saying “cheerful chappy”. Cheerful chappy! Excellent.  I thought this picture was symmetrical when I took it. I stared at it for ages. Still thought it was symmetrical. It’s only now, 5 months later, that I’m noticing it’s not. Funny things, these ogle-boxes.I have run out of things to say about these pictures now. On the left, you have a picture of Charlie, Han and Amélie outside the Roman museum. On the right, you have a picture of the floor inside the cathedral. Err… Yep, that’s all I can think of saying. Did I mention I was feeling sick? And finally, some more… pictures.I would make an excellent tour guide, wouldn’t I? Cologne City Council, I await your offer. In the meantime, I’m going to bed. Or to barf. One or the other.

25 March 2013 - 2:06 AM vanhookc - Oh, your efforts are appreciated! I feel like you have taken us on a great tour--sunny or cloudy, who cares! I would love to travel and see the world, as you have shown here! Your writings are intriguing! I look forward to RSS feeds from your adventures and daily thoughts! Ha! The family looks so sweet! I remember the day of chasing four toddlers around! Mine are grown and I am soon to be a retiring high school media travel sounds nice!

25 March 2013 - 6:36 AM amanda - Love the last pic of the kids, so sweet :)

16 April 2013 - 5:25 PM Teresa - Wow! What a beautiful place. When I think of travel destinations, I always want to go where it's cold and old; rarely ever tropical. I love history and the thought of people having stood in the same place years before me. So odd and displacing and magical.

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